Seizure of carp at British Control Zone in Coquelles
UK Border Agency Officers at the British Control Zone in Coquelles working in conjunction with the Government's Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) discovered 3 live carp in a vehicle being driven by a 38 year old man from Wolverhampton as he attempted to enter the UK from France. The fish, each weighing between 18 - 20lbs, were located in a tank full of water on the rear seat of an Audi A4.
The Inspectorate, based at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, advises that it is illegal to import live coldwater fish unless from an EU "approved" zone and accompanied by a movement document issued by an authorised veterinary inspector.
Stuart Katon, the FHI's Enforcement and Investigations Officer said: "Regrettably on this occasion we are unable to consider a prosecution against this individual as a passenger within the control zone at Coquelles is still legally in France, even though UK border controls are taking place there. The point of arrival in the UK is at the international marked frontier at the mid-point of the channel tunnel system"
In this particular case the 3 fish were returned to a local fishery near Coquelles before the driver of the Audi was allowed to return to this country thereby ensuring that no disease was spread from their possible introduction into UK waters. He has since been interviewed under caution and received an official warning from the FHI.
Stuart Katon said: "Our intelligence suggests that this type of criminality may be on the increase with anglers prepared to take the risk of bringing back live fish in order to recoup the cost of their holiday. Likewise unscrupulous fishery owners will probably be prepared to pay up to £400 each for an illegal
18-20lb carp but beware we are increasing our operational activity at UK Ports and if we catch people doing this then I can assure you that they will definitely face prosecution. Our new partnership with Crimestoppers is also really starting to gather momentum and I would encourage the angling community to continue to provide information about illegal activity"
More information about the importation of live fish may be found by visiting www.efishbusiness.co.uk/imports/default.asp. Or contact the Fish Health Inspectorate directly on 01305 206700 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Katon can be contacted on 07771 977273. All enquiries and any information supplied about potentially illegal movements of live fish will be dealt with in strict confidence.
Notes to editors
1. Cefas is the UK's largest and most diverse applied marine science organisation. Bridging the interface between science, policy and delivery, it operates as an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It provides evidence-based scientific advice, manages related data and information, conducts world-class scientific research, and facilitates collaborative action through wide-ranging relationships. Working both in the UK and internationally, it plays a vital role in securing healthy marine and freshwater environments. It has over 500 staff, two UK laboratories (in Lowestoft and Weymouth), its own ocean-going research vessel, and over 100 years of experience. For more detail about its range of activities visit www.cefas.co.uk.
2. The Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI), based at Cefas' Weymouth laboratory, is dedicated to maintaining and improving fish and shellfish health in England and Wales. Its primary role is to act for Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) in undertaking statutory and inspection duties resulting from the EU Fish Health regime and other national legislation in the area of fish and shellfish health. The Inspectorate is responsible for health certification of fish and shellfish movements from other countries, and runs an enforcement programme aimed at preventing the illegal importation of these animals. For more about movement controls and enforcement visit www.cefas.co.uk/fhi/movements.htm.
3. Smuggled fish pose a great risk of spreading disease to indigenous fish stocks and within native waters. Upon arrival in the UK, their original country of origin is often undetermined, and their health status and certification may also be uncertain.
4. The Angling Trust is a funding partner for Crimestoppers' projects on fish related crime.